Uniform Jury Instructions Supplements Coming Soon

jury instructions, scales of justice and gavel on law books with bookshelves in the backgroundThe uniform jury instructions committees are charged with the task of developing uniform jury instructions for use in civil and criminal trials. They must also promote better coordination of activities between the two committees to insure a uniform approach to judicial instructions to juries. They continually update existing jury instructions to comply with case law, legislation, and useful suggestions from sections and the legal community, as well as raft instructions in plain language maintaining the goals of clarity and accuracy.

This important charge kept both the civil and the criminal committees busy in 2023.

Uniform Civil Jury Instructions

In 2023, the Uniform Civil Jury Instructions Committee completed their review of the User’s Guide, amended ten instructions, withdrew three instructions, and added three new instructions. The committee also updated the comment to 44.03 (Professional Perfection Not Required), which was withdrawn in 2022 after the Court of Appeals found it to be an incorrect statement of the law. The Supreme Court has since reversed the Court of Appeals and the committee plans to review this instruction again in 2024.

The Committee updated the User’s Guide to reflect amendments to statutes and rules where necessary, edited the guide to include more gender-neutral terms, added case law, and updated and expanded the section on exceptions.

The committee withdrew UCJI 44.06 and 44.07 dealing with agency in the hospital context. UCJI 30.04A and 30.04B, which address actual and apparent agency in general, were both updated in the comments to add recent case law affecting agency in the hospital context. In the area of domestic-animal liability, the committee updated an instruction, combined two instructions into one, and added four new instructions providing definitions of domestic animal, wild animal, and keeper. The committee also added instructions to address liability for dogs adjudged to be potentially dangerous. Finally, the committee amended several instructions to update statutory citations that the legislature had recently renumbered.

Uniform Criminal Jury Instructions

Considering some appellate court opinions regarding mental states and how they apply to particular elements of crimes, the 2023 Uniform Criminal Jury Instructions Committee had plenty of work to do. The committee’s big accomplishment was revising all the assault instructions. Many of those instructions had to be split in two, creating separate instructions for the “knowingly” version of the crime and the other mental-state versions. Among other things, the committee also updated some of the homicide instructions, the bias-crime instructions, and some criminal mischief instructions, and it wrote a new instruction for the aggravating factor of committing a crime with a firearm.

Overall, the 2023 Supplement contains 52 revised instruction and 20 new instructions.

Available for Preorder

Both of the supplements, and the full books including the supplement instructions, are now available for preorder on the online bookstore in both print and digital formats. Both formats include the MS Word documents of the instructions. All eBook preorders will ship in February and print book preorders will ship by early March.

Important Updates to Criminal Jury Instructions

The 2022 supplement to the Uniform Criminal Jury Instructions is now available for preorder. The Uniform Criminal Jury Instructions Committee had its work cut out for it in 2022, resulting in 35 amended instructions and two new instructions. Culpable mental states and delivery of controlled substances were just two of the topics the Committee tackled in response to appellate case law. Legal Publications Attorney Editor Dean Land, who is OSB’s liaison to the Committee, has provided the following insight into the Committee’s work. Continue reading

Marijuana-Related Jury Instructions under Construction

By Dean Land, Attorney Editor

At first glance, Oregon’s new marijuana laws seem simple—recreational marijuana is now legal. But a more in-depth look reveals some very complex legislation. Together, Ballot Measure 91 (2014) and House Bill 3400 (2015) take up 99 pages in Oregon Laws.

The legislation’s effect on the jury instructions is something that the Uniform Criminal Jury Instructions Committee is still working to untangle. For example, ORS 475.864 (2013), which criminalized the possession of a certain amount of marijuana, was not simply repealed. Instead, the new version of the statute criminalizes possession of marijuana under certain circumstances, based on criteria including the age of the possessor, the location of the possession, and the amount and form of the marijuana. Furthermore, the statute does not apply to licensed growers, processors, and sellers “acting in accordance with” Measure 91. ORS 475.864(6) (2015). This raises questions. Does a district attorney who charges unlawful possession of marijuana have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in accordance with Measure 91? Or is acting in accordance with Measure 91 an affirmative defense? And perhaps most perplexing of all, how should that element of the crime be phrased for the jury?

These are among the many questions confronting the committee as it works to update the instructions for marijuana crimes. Although the committee was unable to revise these instructions in time for the 2015 UCrJI Supplement, it alerted practitioners to the issue by adding notes to the potentially affected instructions. The committee expects to have revised marijuana-crime instructions ready for the 2016 Supplement. In the meantime, judges, defense attorneys, and prosecutors are encouraged to contact committee members with any suggestions.

New Look for Criminal Jury Instructions

By Dean Land, Legal Publications Attorney Editor

Although no one has been keeping track, State v. Mills, 354 Or 350, 312 P3d 515 (2013), probably holds the record for the case that necessitated changes to the most jury instructions. Mills is the Oregon Supreme Court case holding that venue is no longer an issue for the jury. And, as anyone familiar with Oregon’s Uniform Criminal Jury Instructions knows, most of the instructions list the elements of particular crimes, beginning with the venue element: “The act occurred in _______ County, Oregon.”

After Mills came down, the Uniform Criminal Jury Instructions Committee had to remove the venue element from 381 instructions. It also withdrew three other instructions that addressed specific venue situations. So Mills accounted for changes to 63% of the instructions in the book (and a headache for a certain staff member of the Legal Publications department).

Rest assured, all those changes and more are incorporated in the 2013 Supplement to the Uniform Criminal Jury Instructions. The supplement is available for preorder at a discounted price through January 24 (and at full price thereafter), and the updated instructions will be posted on BarBooks™ by the end of January.